It may not be stellar, but the top 6-month return on our CD Rates Leaderboard has certainly been rock-steady.
A single bank has led all competitors for most of 15 months with an unwavering 1.05% APY on nationally available 6-month certificates.
Unfortunately, that means the top yield is the same as before the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in December.
And it means many savers are still better off with one of the high-yield savings or money market accounts on our Savings Account Leaderboard.
But at least 6-month CDs haven’t lost ground since the Fed’s hike — something that’s disappointingly happened in four of the seven major CD terms we track here.
As always, shopping locally may earn you more from a credit union or community bank. We know of four deals that outpay the national leader, with one offering 1.74% APY.
As for what’s in the cards for another Fed rate increase, the expectations are fairly dour. But with the rate-setting committee’s next meeting a week away, we’ll tell you what we know.
The top national yields
From last April until mid-February, MySavingsDirect sat at the top of the national 6-month rankings with no competition, paying 1.05% APY.
Until then, it was the only bank to pay more than 1 percent over the last five years.
But Live Oak Bank added a little blip to the 6-month lead history, when it briefly offered 1.10% APY in February.
Alas, its rate was more promotion than long-term stake, because within two weeks, it lowered its rate to 1.00% APY.
That brought our Leaderboard back to 1.05% APY from stalwart MySavingsDirect, with its reign now extended to 15 months (minus Live Oak’s 12 days).
With four banks now paying at least 1.00% APY, we’re faring much better than the post-recession low of 0.80% APY we saw in 2012.
Still, an increase in the top rate is really what savers need.
MySavingsDirect is one of three online portals run by Emigrant Bank, New York City’s oldest bank.
Operating exclusively online with no branches, it offers a lean menu of one savings account and three certificates of deposit.
Top National 6-month CDs
|AloStar Bank of Commerce||1.01%||$1,000|
|Live Oak Bank||1.00%||$2,500|
|California First National Bank||1.00%||$5,000||First Internet Bank of Indiana||0.90%||$1,000|
|Colorado Federal Savings Bank||0.90%||$5,000|
|EH National Bank||0.88%||$10,000|
|BAC Florida Bank||0.87%||$1,500|
|Triumph Savings Bank||0.85%||$1,000|
|The Federal Savings Bank||0.80%||$10,000|
|Bank of Internet USA||0.75%||$1,000|
|Pacific National Bank||0.75%||$1,000|
We update these rankings every day banks are open, with the top tier of offers appearing on our CD Rates Leaderboard.
But before locking into any certificate of deposit, it’s always prudent to search Bankrate’s extensive database of the best CD rates to make sure you’re getting your absolute best deal of the day.
Earn more with local deals
As our readers know, the very best rates in the country are usually from a community bank or a credit union requiring CD buyers to jump through a hoop or two.
For a 6-month term, we’re currently aware of four offers that outpay MySavingsDirect’s 1.05% APY, although restrictions on who may open them are somewhat limiting.
Top Local 6-Month CD Rates
|Peoples Transport Federal Credit Union||New Jersey||1.74%||$500|
|Self Reliance New York Federal Credit Union||New York||1.41%||$500|
|LOMTO Federal Credit Union||New York||1.10%||$2,000|
|Telco Credit Union||North Carolina||1.06%||$1,000|
|Federal Employees Credit Union||Alabama||1.05%||$500|
|Mil-Way Federal Credit Union||Arkansas, Texas||1.05%||$2,500|
In addition to these, deals with shorter and longer terms appear in our full roundup of the top-paying CDs from credit unions and community banks around the country.
Waiting on the Fed
All of these deals are far better than what you’ll find at most banks, where the national 6-month average remains a pitiful 0.18% APY.
That’s a trivial gain from the record-low 0.14% APY we saw in June 2014.
Rewind to February 2007 and the national average return was 3.50% APY — a reasonable rate of return by most historical standards.
The huge disparity between then and now comes from the Fed’s decision to stem the economy’s bleeding by pushing short-term interest rates to record lows during the 2008 financial crisis — and tethering them there.
That chilly seven-year period finally concluded in December, when the Fed’s rate-setting committee launched what was then forecasted to be a series of small, gradual hikes over the next several years.
So far there’s been just the one increase, and the modest bump sadly hasn’t moved many banks to improve their rate sheets.
So when can we expect another boost?
The Fed’s still waiting for the economy to show a healthy inflation rate, and now Brexit has thrown uncertainty into global markets. These and other factors have given the Fed pause on whether our economy’s ready for a second hike.
Although its committee will meet July 26-27, essentially no one predicts a rate increase this time. In fact, most on Wall Street bet the next increase won’t come until at least September, and maybe even December or sometime in 2017.
What does seem clear is that without another nudge from the Fed, there’s little reason to expect relief for savers in the meantime.